The Best Roof Coatings of 2022 (Performance, Cost, and More)

Best Roof Coatings (Blog Cover)

People often ask: what’s the best roof coating?

Choosing which roof coating would work best for your building and your needs takes research and understanding. 

There are a plethora of choices when it comes to commercial roof coatings. They all have their merits and downfalls. In addition, they all work better in some conditions than others. 

Then, of course, there is the price to consider. After all, it’s not like all roofing materials and labor will cost the same. 

You also have to consider your budget. In general, a lot of careful planning and consideration needs to go into your roof coating selection. 

Not everyone is an expert in roof coatings, so Roofer’s Guild put together the following list of the best roof coatings for different situations. 

We also provide a brief analysis of each roof coating and insights into their cost and best uses.

Silicone Coatings

Silicone coating is a high solid content roof coating. It is a substantial and helpful type of roof coating, particularly for properties in regions with regular sun and rain. 

Silicone roof coatings reflect a great deal of UV light because they usually come in white or other light, highly-reflective colors. 

You can expect to pay anywhere between $2 and $3.50 per square foot to install a silicone roof coating. Labor may drive up the cost a bit higher because multiple coats are typically needed.

One of the most significant advantages of silicone roofing is that it is highly reflective. They will also hold up better than other roof coating types if your roof frequently fluctuates between hot and wet conditions. 

It will help keep your roof and entire building cool in the hot summer months and prevent pooling water from accumulating during the wet winter months. 

The average lifespan (with proper maintenance, of course) is about 15 years

However, silicone roof coatings are not ideal for every building, as they tend to accumulate dirt very quickly. 

If your roof gets a lot of foot traffic, silicone coatings may be a bad idea. They also can be very slippery when wet.

Pros:

  • Highly reflective
  • Decent lifespan
  • They don’t get brittle after wet/heat fluctuation

Cons:

  • Presents a slipping hazard
  • Cleaning maintenance can be demanding
Graphic Outlining Pros and Cons of Silicone Roof Coatings

Acrylic Coatings

One of the most unique things about acrylic coatings is that they are made with biocides. This makes them another solid option if you live in a region with its fair share of rain and sunlight. 

The biocides help negate the risk of mildew or mold growing on your roof and spreading to the rest of your property. 

Acrylic coatings have also come a long way in recent years. Today, you can apply an acrylic coating to many popular roofing types, including built-up roofs, single-ply roofs, modified bitumen roofs, and more. 

The average price to install an acrylic roof coating is 50 cents to a dollar per square foot. These versatile roofs make them another attractive prospect for many different property owners and managers. 

Like Silicone roof coatings, acrylic roof coatings are highly reflective, which will help keep your cooling costs down. The average lifespan of an acrylic roof coating is between 10 and 20 years. 

You have to be very careful when choosing an acrylic coating, though. For example, suppose you live in a stormy region. In that case, acrylic is not ideal because it is water-based, to begin with. 

Pooling water tends to be a problem for this kind of roofing. You must also be careful when applying an acrylic coating in cold temperatures (below about 50 degrees Fahrenheit).

Winter weather may impede the adhesion process. Therefore, you should only apply these coatings in dry, warm weather. 

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Great for very hot and sunny regions

Cons:

  • Should only be applied in optimal weather
  • Not great for stormy regions
Graphic Showing Pros and Cons of Acrylic Roof Coatings

Urethane Coatings

Urethane coatings are known for their strength. They also form a powerful bond with the substrate, which is why urethane roof coatings have one of the most attractive lifespans: about 30 years. 

In some cases, this type of roof coating can last more than 50 years. Unfortunately, this extended lifespan is part of what drives the cost of materials and installation of urethane roof coatings. 

You can expect to pay about $1.50 to $3.00 per square foot to have a urethane roof cover applied professionally. 

Still, for many business owners, this investment is well worth it. Part of the longevity of this kind of roof coating has to do with urethane’s natural resistance to thermal shifting. 

As a result, it won’t crack or break under the rigors of extreme heat and cooling off. People who live in areas where hail storms are common also like urethane roof coatings because they are highly impact-resistant. 

Urethane roof coatings can also be sprayed on or rolled, giving contractors and property owners more installation options. 

The only negative is the involved application process. Depending on your business, you may have to spend significantly more on installation because urethane can be strenuous on installation equipment. 

Pros:

  • Great for roofs that get a lot of foot traffic
  • They have an impressive lifespan
  • Urethane roof coatings are highly impact-resistant

Cons:

  • They can be tough and expensive to apply
  • Urethane is not the most UV-stable roof coating material
Graphic Detailing Pros and Cons of Urethane Roof Coatings

Butyl Coatings

Butyl roof coatings have meager permeability ratings. This means they are not likely to let a significant amount of moisture or vapor in through your roof. 

Butyl rubber roof coatings can also be easily repaired when the time comes. Butyl roof coatings can also be sprayed or rolled on. However, the spraying application can be challenging and strenuous on equipment.

Some contractors might charge a lot for installation even when the material isn’t all that expensive. For example, while butyl may not be very expensive in general, you may need a lot of it for full roof coverage. 

These roofs have a very low solids content, so many coats may be needed to achieve the desired firmness. 

Butyl roof coatings are also very reflective and easy to clean. So if you are looking for the best roof coating for a roof that gets a decent amount of foot traffic, then butyl coatings may be a solid option. 

Pros:

  • It can be elongated to a high degree
  • Very good for keeping out moisture
  • It can be applied to many substrate materials

Cons:

  • Many coats are usually needed to firm up the coating
  • The installation costs can be quite expensive
Graphic Showing Pros and Cons of Butyl Roof Coatings

Situations to Consider

The best roof coating for your building will depend on location and structure. In addition, you must consider preferences, i.e., ease of maintenance, longevity, energy savings, etc. 

In general, though, here is a breakdown of the situations you should consider when choosing a roof coating:

  • Extreme Heat: If you live in a region prone to excessive heat, you will want a highly reflective coating material. Usually, you will want a reflectivity rating from 85% and up. This usually includes acrylic and silicone roof coatings. However, extreme heat conditions may also call for suitable emissivity, which measures the material’s ability to release heat once it is absorbed. 
  • High Foot Traffic: If you have a lot of foot traffic on your roof, you will probably need a roof coating with high solids by volume content. The higher the solids by volume of a roof coating material, the former once the application dries. 
  • Excessive Rain: You will want a roof coating material with a meager permeability rating for extreme rain conditions. This will give you the best shot at avoiding leaks and water damage. Butyl coatings are typically suitable in these conditions.